So, this has been burning a hole in my pocket for a while, and now that I’ve finally clawed out of purgatory into witchhood, I thought it’d make an ample first topic.
Contains spoilers for character designs throughout the series.
Edit: Also, RIP all the formatting I did, there’s abundant resizing. Please view full images for full effect.
I’ve been into Umineko for almost as long as I’ve been into Lolita fashion, so of course I’m in love with the outfits of the entire cast. It’s something that’s little-known as far as I’m aware, I’ve found very few posts regarding this and the one I did find didn’t dig very deep, so I’d like to reveal this to everyone.
The majority of the cast’s designs… were lifted straight from a handful of issues of the Gothic Lolita Bible!
For the unaware, the Gothic Lolita Bible (or GLB for brevity’s sake) is a long-running fashion magazine and more or less the authority on trends in Lolita fashion.
A few years ago, when I was looking through old issues of the GLB, I found something that made my jaw drop. A very… familiar outfit?
. . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 30, page 35
Ho boy. With a slight recoloration, this is very clearly MARIA, Witch of Origins…
Even the positioning of the legs is the same.
…Needless to say, this gave me the burning feeling to dig deeper. Surely, Maria wasn’t the only one?
Then, I discovered the most shockingly blunt one of all:
. . . . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 27, page 54
One look and all you can say is “there’s no way… that’s impossible!” or maybe “That’s gotta be a cosplay! The magazine came out sometime after Umineko!”, but unfortunately this issue came out in the Winter of 2007, just before the release of Turn of the Golden Witch, Lambda’s debut!
It was then that I began to see a bit of a pattern there.
Lets flip ahead an issue, to volume 28- the Spring issue of 2008, well before the August '08 release date of Banquet of the Golden Witch, which debuted a few characters:
Starting with the most blatant, we have EVA-Beatrice.
. . . . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 28, page 42
Pretty spot on, even down to the color scheme save for the one recolored bow. And of course, the hat. Don’t worry though, even that hat isn’t safe. It’s actually from a much earlier issue:
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 15, pages 64 and 63
Of course, that’s not the only character found in the issue…
. . . . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 28, page 3
Once again, not only is the outfit replicated, but the pose tells us as well that these are indeed the origins. The legs and the arm on the waist are identical. Once again we have a slight color change in the bow, and the skirt’s been traded out for a pleated one.
But wait, there’s more in this issue!
. . . . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 28, page 41
I almost missed this one, but there’s no doubt about it. Even without the gold trim and cravat recolor, it’s pretty clear this is the same.
Let’s move forward in the timeline again, just to be positive. How about my absolute favorite darling, Erika?
. . . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 32, page 23
Right on the nose, from her shoes to her stockings to her lace collar to her funny lil’ hat. Heck, even her odd haircut seems to have originated from Ryu adding pigtails to this girl’s bob.
Erika’s I find the most interesting- comparing the real world fabric with the novel’s plain palette, it’s some sort of weird feeling that I think explains why cosplay tends to always feel like cosplay even when it’s really high quality. In this situation, it’s almost like a game of telephone.
You may have noticed also, but this dress isn’t exactly the same. The models’ runs up past her breasts, while Erika’s ends as a corset. Funnily enough though, I found this flipping backwards a few pages:
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 32, page 18
I’m sure the final design is a amalgamation of the two, although it isn’t really of much importance considering how close the first image is on its own.
Knowing this many correlations, I started to ask myself not how many of these designs were lifted, but rather… how many weren’t??
How far back does it go? Well, keeping the timeline in mind, let’s flip back to the issues that happened before the first novel, Legend of the Golden Witch. The debut was in August of 2007, so if we flip back before then…
Aha! Issue 18, released a couple of years prior in Autumn of 05:
. . . . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 18, page 62
Natsuhi’s weird 2nd layer suddenly becomes apparent: it’s supposed to be a petticoat. We also see the addition of a cravat and brooch, but it’s clear they’re the same.
Flipping through the issue some more, we see Bernkastel, representing the quintessential gothic lolita:
. . . . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 18, page 64
Some slight changes, yet another recolored bow, and some more refined socks, but definitely one and the same. I always had this weird feeling that Bern was supposed to have a headpiece.
Rosa I struggled to find, but I’m pretty sure this is the one.
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 18, page 2
There was never any doubt in my mind that she was wearing aristocrat lolita, specifically something Atelier Boz, but there’s a dress similar to this in the front of nearly every issue. Not only does this one match the pose and clavat the best, but it’s also in the same issue as Natsuhi and the other EP1 stuff.
Before we move on to the most important couple, I want to fast forward to Virgilia, since she’s the final obvious one that I’ve found.
. . . .
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 28, page 55
A simple color inversion and we end up with Virgilia- there’s no mistaking those sleeves.
There’s another image on the next page that is just an illustration of the same dress, I’ll leave it here just because:
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 28, page 56
So, a lot of that was a little too close for comfort. Let’s loosen up and look at some inspiration that’s a lot more… inspired?
Beatrice’s origins appear to also have come from issue 18, which is strange considering how… authentic her dress feels? It certainly feels more like a dress you’d see in a portrait than something you’d associate with lolita. Nonetheless, this is some pretty compelling evidence:
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 18, pages 55 and 56
Truly splendid. It seems pretty clear from the first image that Beatrice’s sleeves originated here, and the general overall form is very similar. The second dress also seems to feature some gold decor that if looked at the right way, almost look like butterflies.
Funnily enough, golden butterflies also occur at other times in the GLB:
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is where the motif originated.
Now, onto Battler. In the very same issue we find:
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 18, page 48
Not quite the same, I’ll admit. Battler’s Cross isn’t a necklace, and he doesn’t have those folds over his zipper, but after looking through issue after issue there’s no doubt in my mind this is where the studs come from.
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 15, page 46 Gothic Lolita Bible issue 26, page 15
Interestingly enough, the cross zipper is pretty common elsewhere in the GLB, particularly with Mana’s pages:
So, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the origin of Battler’s zipper.
The other gentlemen in the Ushiromiya household aren’t particularly interesting, they’re all wearing suits. What is interesting is that most of them have their hands in their pocket, quite similar to what’s happening in this shot from the Spring 2007 issue (right before Legend):
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 24
It’s entirely possible Black Battler was the original palette, and this inspired Ryukishi to switch him to white as well as inspired him to give everyone a pocket pose, but there’s not really a lot of evidence to work on in that respect.
So what other inspirations can we find?
Probably the most interesting is that of Shannon, in the same issue as that suit:
Gothic Lolita Bible issue 24, page 74
This one I missed at first because it’s so far removed, but there’s no doubt about it when we look at the pose, in particular the legs. This explains Shannon’s absolutely bizarre exposed skirt, it’s what Ryu07 saw when he looked at this petticoat. From here, it looks the model’s skirt is split open and held together with two chains exposing her petti. This isn’t the case, however, the petticoat is just layered with some black trim as we can see from the top of the page:
Absolutely fascinating though, if I’m correct.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find much more. What in particular I wanted to know was, where did the crotch-ruffle furniture originate? Those are some of the most beloved designs in Umineko. Alas, the answers aren’t in the GLB. I also failed to find many of the cast I was sure would be in there.
In particular, Gaap, who actually references a brand called “Devilish Pretty” in the VN. This is an obvious reference to the lolita brand Angelic Pretty, so it was a headscratcher that it wasn’t in the GLB.
At this point though, I was losing my mind regardless. I’d never heard about this or seen anyone discuss it, and searching found very little. There was, however, one instance of someone in Japan who had discovered some of this. They wrote an article more or less entitled “Umineko Costumes similar to ready-made items! Ryu07 is a design thief??”
They appeared to not have uncovered the full ordeal, but there were a few missing from my collection there. Of course, Gaap was among them:
Pretty striking, using the same hair as well. Indeed, it was an Angelic Pretty dress as anyone could have guessed.
But what about the ruffles? Alas, no ruffles persay, but some heartbreaking finds nonetheless:
Well, the Chiesters aren’t so surprising as there wasn’t much doubt to their origins, but the Eiserne Jungfrau and demons of love certainly caught me off guard.
Lion was also in this mix, a really nice find:
This is more or less the end of what I’ve found.
This bothers me greatly, there’s still a chunk of the cast I’m so sure are out there.
Where is Claire, who’s donning the remaining clear lolita outfit?
Where is Maria, who must be a casual lolita with her bag and classic lolita headpiece?
Where is Amakusa? No seriously, the guy looks like he walked out of a j-fashion magazine. If he’s not in the GLB, he may be in a different magazine.
Where is Kanon? His style, particularly with the socks, is a very clear Ouji lolita style.
Could we even find Eva? She’s just rocking a mandarin gown… but if we did find her it would possibly hint to the origins of the unique dress print she shares with Beatrice.
I think that’s it. Please, feel free to help me continue this search.
If you’d like to check for yourself, most every issue (though in not the best quality) is preserved in the Lolita History Gallery.
The article I brought up earlier is in Japanese, and can be found here.
So, <What do you think everyone?>
What’s the line on inspiration vs design theft?
Does this affect how you see Ryukishi, or Umineko overall?